Share This Page

Newbill leads Penn State past Duquesne

| Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 6:32 p.m.

UNIVERSITY PARK — D.J. Newbill looks more confident running the point. Sasha Borovnjak looks more confident, period.

Those two developments and a modest four-game winning streak gives Penn State a glimmer of hope as it enters the maw of Big Ten play.

Newbill scored a career-high 23 points and Borovnjak added 14 as Penn State held off pesky Duquesne, 84-74, before a sparse crowd Saturday at Bryce Jordan Center.

Newbill stuffed the stat sheet before an announced crowd of 5,521.

The sophomore guard pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds and dished out five assists despite a sneakers malfunction in the second half. Borovnjak shot 7 of 9 from the field, and the 6-foot-9 redshirt junior has scored in double-digits in three straight games.

Neither Newbill nor Borovjnak was more valuable to the Nittany Lions (8-4) on a wintry afternoon than former walk-on Nick Colella.

The New Castle graduate scored a career-high 15 points and made 5 of 7 shots from behind the arc. Colella drilled a pair of 3-pointers to key an early 9-0 run that helped Penn State take control of the game.

His final triple gave Penn State a 63-42 lead with 12 minutes left in the contest. “C'mon, he's from Pittsburgh,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said with a grin when asked about Colella's timely shooting. “That's his Super Bowl right there. He just showed he could do it. Now I want to see him do it in the Big Ten.”

The Nittany Lions open Big Ten play Thursday at Wisconsin and host Indiana on Jan. 7.

Duquesne (7-7) doesn't take much momentum into Atlantic 10 after losing three of its past four games following an upset of West Virginia.

The Dukes struggled to find their rhythm on offense, and they shot just a shade over 37 percent with senior guard Sean Johnson leading the way with 19 points. Duquesne, which visits Fordham Wednesday, made a furious rally and whittled Penn State's lead to 79-74 with 56 seconds to play.

“We were down 15 to West Virginia and we just stayed with the game plan, grinding and grinding, and we came back,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “We came up a little bit short.”

Newbill's playmaking ultimately proved to be too much. The Southern Miss transfer has settled in at the point following a season-ending foot injury suffered last month by All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier.

Newbill, a Philadelphia native, fed Borovnjak with a no-look bounce pass off a pick-and-roll early in the second half, resulting in an easy layup. A better gauge of Newbill's development will be provided by the top conference in the country.

“We realize the Big Ten is going to be some of the toughest games that we face this year,” Newbill said, “but our principles don't change: play hard, defend, (be) tough, gritty.”

Newbill may have been the last one who should have been talking about not changing after what happened in the second half Saturday.

The 6-4 guard had to don new shorts after getting blood on his (Newbill's teammates formed a wall around him as he made the quick change near Penn State's bench).

Newbill later had to change shoes — twice.

He borrowed one from a teammate after his came apart at the seams while making a cut. That held him over until a team manager could retrieve a fresh pair of sneakers from the locker room.

“One of the walk-ons is a size 13 (same as Newbill) and I was screaming for a minute ‘What are you waiting for?' ” Chambers said with a laugh. “His sneaker was broken.”

Not much else was against the Dukes.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.